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The Buxton Memorial Fountain. S. S. Teulon and Charles Buxton. 1863; erected 1865; restored 2007. Victoria Tower Gardens, London SW1, with the Houses of Parliament in the background. This spectacular, over-the-top drinking fountain was donated and may have been originally designed by the self-taught architect Charles Buxton. He intended it as a monument to his father's work on the anti-slavery campaign, which had helped to bring about the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act.

The fountain is described in a book by a descendant of the Buxton family as "[o]ne of his [Buxton's] best known works," demonstrating not only his love of the Gothic, but also his aim to "add to the objects of beauty by which the common taste may be educated and delighted" (qtd. in Nairn and Pevsner 597-8). However, the information plaque in front of the drinking fountain ascribes it simply to the much better-known architect Samuel Sanders Teulon. It must have been a collaboration, with Teulon perhaps drawing up the final design. The information plaque explains: "the spire is timber framed, and clad with enamelled sheet steel.

Two left: Details of stone carving on the exterior and interior. Right: Drinking fountain. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Left: . Right: . [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Many different materials and decorative techniques are used, including grey and pink granite, limestone, grey and red sandstone, rosso marble enamelled metalwork, wrought iron, mosaic and terracotta." The memorial was restored to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the 1807 Act which ended trans-Atlantic slave trading. A fascinating blend of the old and the new, Gothic and exotic, it "stood until 1957 in the north-west corner of Parliament Square" (Hibbert and Weinreb 523).

Related material


"The Buxton Memorial" (Royal Parks information plaque).

Nairn, Ian, and Nikolaus Pevsner. The Buildings of England: Surrey. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2nd ed. 1971.

Weinreb, Ben and Christopher Hibbert. The London Encyclopaedia. London: Macmillan, rev.ed.1992.

Last modified 9 June 2018